Won't Get Fooled Again by Richie Unterberger
(Jaw Bone, ISBN 978-1-906002-35-0)


(review by Chris Suchatzki)

American music author Richie Unterberger devotes his book to a period of time which belongs to the most interesting, most confusing and most innovative periods in the Who's long time history. It's the time after the milestone of Tommy in which Pete seeked a new musical orientation where a dignified successor of Tommy should arose and which is characterized by failures (Lifehouse), highlights (Who's Next) and ambivalent events (Quadrophenia).

At first I've had doubts if this period of the longtime Who biography can be looked at so isolated and if Richie Unterberger just would praise endlessly the album and its great songs which are so popular among Who fans. But it can be noticed quickly that this is an excellent and well researched non fiction book.

Richie Unterberger shares a very objective and factual light on the events in the before mentioned Who period. He pays intensive attention to technical and musical developments (in particular the innovative use of a synthesizer), compares demos and final versions of the created compositions of that time, analyzes the weaks and strengths of the songs, provides background information to recording sessions and reports about live perfomances of the new material for example the concerts at the Young Vic Theatre or on tours and about the reaction of fans and the music press.

In his book Richie Unterberger mainly quotes interviews and press and media articles which are interesting to read but sometimes also long-winded. Still because of the objective and factual representation Richie Unterberger has presented a very recommendable non fiction book. The reader gets lots of insights of the Lifehouse project and the creation of Who's Next and Quadrophenia. It's also positive to value that Richie Unterberger's accounts do not turn off towards a prospective Who biography. He goes without extensive and already known biographical facts and only mentions them as far as they seem meaningful in the prevailing context. With that the music subject remains in the main emphasis and the book meets fully the requirements of such a content.

Only the book title "Won't Get Fooled Again" seems a bit dubious to me. On one hand it refers with regard to content only to Lifehouse respectively Who's Next and excludes Quadrophenia. On the other hand there's nothing about Lifehouse, Who's Next and Quadrophenia with which The Who or Pete Townshend would have fooled us fans. And the authors hint about Pete's steady changes of opinions and announcements depending on what day he is asked and what mood he is in, might be true - especially during the Lifehouse period - but might be not an argument for using such a title. It does not exploit why Richie Unterberger has chosen this title but this does not spoil the remaining excellent work.

To sum it up, convincing concept, excellent research and an all in all successful literary realization. This 300 page book is thoroughly recommendable.